Dear John, we’ll meet again…

Posted: April 15, 2012 in Cold War, Cold War Movies, Events, Public Programs

Elle The BunkerGirl

Although this next blog was dedicated to decoration DIYs, I thought I’d take a pause from the Mother’s Day event to remind everyone about the return of the Diefenbunker’s Cold War Cinema on April 24th! We start the movie season with the well-known cult classic, Stanley Kubric-directed Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

This dark comedy- emphasis on the comedy- treats the delicate nature of the Cold War and the frightening reality of a nuclear apocalypse with disrespect. Provoked by two demented and war hungry US generals with their finger on the trigger, played by Sterling Hayden and George C. Scott, a troop of US pilots are accidentally ordered to launch a series of nuclear attacks on Russia.

Modern audiences tend to laugh shamelessly and comfortably knowing that the movie plays on the dated fears of an American-Soviet nuclear “Doomsday”, a threat that peaked exactly fifty years ago with the Cuban Missile Crisis, taking place only two years before the release of this 1964 film. The heavy subject of nuclear warfare is approached in a comedic way with a roster of impossible and juvenile characters, some of which are ingeniously played by Oscar-nominated comedian Peter Sellers, who plays the droll US President Merkin Muffley and the bizarre and diabolical, wheel-chair bound nuclear scientist, Dr. Strangelove. The film features other absurd characters like the hooligan pilot Major T.J ‘King’ Kong, who wears a cowboy hat and bull-rides a hydrogen bomb to his death. Then there is the ultra-serious but thick-as-a-brick Colonel Bat Guano, who interferes with Captain Mandrake’s (Sellers) attempt to stop nuclear warfare. Dr. Strangelove walks the fine line between satire and sadness, peace and warfare, and the madness of humanity in an attempt to thwart a communist take-over.

Miss Scott in a bikini named after Bikini Atoll, where nuclear weapons tests were performed by the US between 1946 and 1958*.

Hydrogen bombs carried on the Boeing B52, jokingly labeled "Hi there!" and "Dear John".

The War Room in the Pentagon that holds the Iconorama. The Bunker has one too in our Federal Warning Centre!

For a younger audience, this film may be considered an inspiration for the Austin Powers comedies and includes an interesting mix of satire and the “who-done it” aspect of The Usual Suspects. (Mike Myers, similar to Sellers, played the roles of several conflicting key characters in each of his ‘Powers’ movies.) Older audiences will recognize the dramatic ending of mushroom cloud footage under the closing soundtrack of Vera Lynn’s Second World War ballad “We’ll Meet Again” which serves as its anthem.

And since the film opens with an introduction to the Boeing B52 bomber – flown for the first time on this day in 1952 – we would be remiss in not wishing Happy 60th flight anniversary to the plane that is capable, according to the film, of launching 15 megaton bombs!

Overall we know this black and white film will remain one the Bunker’s favourites as long as we have Cold War Cinema.

Major T.J. 'King' Kong bull-riding the hydrogen bomb.

Come join us for a guided tour of this one and only underground museum at 6pm followed by the screening of this equally unique film at 7pm! Prices: $15 tour and film, $8 film only.

*”Bikini.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2012. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/65176/Bikini>.

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